Monday, June 22, 2015

Seeing Green Downtown

Downtown Houston seems like an unlikely place to find tranquility, but between Hermann Square, the Julia Ideson Library, and the Sam Houston Park, you can take a deep breath while diving into Houston's history.

Tents and Food Trucks around Hermann Square
Every Wednesday (from 11am- 1:30pm), the City Hall Farmer's Market takes place on the Hermann Square in front of the City Hall downtown. Dozens of food trucks come to sell their delicious cuisine; including crepes, Vietnamese sandwiches, paninis, and salads. Vendors also sell fresh produce, cheese, breads, and smoothies. There's something for everyone!

View of Farmer's Market

Directly across the street is the Julia Ideson Library which recently went through renovations in 2010. Surrounded by lush gardens, the library is a sanitary in the middle of the city. The interior hosts the Texas Room, a one-of-a-kind Reading Room, the Norma Meldrum Children's Room, and brilliantly curated exhibitions (the last was on "Where the Wild Things Are" author and illustrator Maurice Sendak).

Julia Ideson Library Gardens

A view from an upstairs outdoor reading balcony at Julia Ideson Library

Children's Room at the Julia Ideson Library

If you walk a few blocks away to the edge of downtown, you'll encounter Sam Houston Park. Founded in 1899,  Sam Houston Park (originally City Park) it is the oldest public park in Houston. In 1954, the Heritage Society began moving 10 historic structures built between 1823-1905 to their new resting place at Sam Houston Park.  The quaint buildings on display are a stark contrast to the towering downtown skyscrapers. It feels as though you've been thrown back in time. As an added bonus, you can listen to a walking phone tour for a very informative history of each of the buildings on site.

Entrance to Sam Houston Park

Sam Houston Park circa 1910; don't you wish we still had a swimming hole! Image from the Julia Ideson Library Archives

Fox sculptures around small water feature 


Native Wildflower Butterfly Garden behind the Staiti House

Contrast between the old and the new 

San Felipe Cottage 1868

Expansive green lawn with small pond in rear of park 

Dog statues in front of the Pillot House 1868

St John Church 1891

Nichols-Rice-Cherry House 1850

The Baker Family Playhouse has an exciting history; you can read all about it inside the Museum. 

The Sam Houston Park is also home to the Heritage Society Museum of Texas History which has rotating exhibits, a replica of the Duncan General Store, and an informative timeline of Houston's history. Tours of the homes in Sam Houston Park are given TuesdaySaturday: 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m.,  & 2:30 p.m.

Sam Houston Park Hours: open daily from dawn to dusk.

The Julia Ideson Library Hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs: 10am-6pm, Wed: 10m-8pm, Friday: closed, Saturday: 10am-5pm, Sun: closed

Keep Exploring!
The Bayou Botanist

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